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Monday, April 23, 2012

Kagawa strike seals German title for Dortmund

Kyodo, AFP-Jiji

DORTMUND, Germany — Japan midfielder Shinji Kagawa scored his 13th league goal of the season Saturday, barely managing to hold back tears as Borussia Dortmund clinched the Bundesliga title for the second year in succession with a routine 2-0 victory over Borussia Monchengladbach.

News photo
That's all she wrote: Borussia Dortmund's Shinji Kagawa scores against Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday in Dortmund, Germany. Kagawa's goal helped secure the league title. AFP-JIJI

Kagawa's 59th-minute strike sealed victory and the title after Ivan Perisic's first-half header had put the hosts ahead in front of more than 80,000 fans at Signal Iduna Park stadium.

Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp sprinted down the pitch to celebrate with Kagawa after the goal and admitted he nearly ended up on the turf.

"It was very, very slippery, but I had to celebrate with him," said Klopp. "Shinji is so cool. He took it all in his stride."

The result put Dortmund eight points clear of second-placed Bayern Munich with just two games left.

"I felt like I wanted to cry during the game. It was after the goal. I am so happy," said Kagawa, who suffered a loss of form and confidence in the first half of the 2012 campaign before coming through with flying colors in the end.

"So many things welled up inside of me and it has been a fulfilling season, but not one without some difficult times too," said the 23-year-old. "I have only been able to achieve this because of my teammates. I am so grateful to them all. Things didn't go so well and results didn't come in the Champions League. We had injuries and there were issues with my own condition."

"But even when the chips were down I took it on the chin and headed into the second half of the season positive and believing in myself. This experience is about more than soccer and I have to make use of it."

The championship victory was all the sweeter this time for Kagawa, who was ruled out for virtually the second half of last season after breaking his foot on international duty with Japan at the Asian Cup.

"I could not play for half of the year last year because of the injury so in that sense this year has been absolutely fantastic," he said.

Kagawa's haul of 13 goals is the most in a season by a Japanese player in Europe's top flight. Last month he eclipsed the 11 scored by Naohiro Takahara for Eintracht Frankfurt in the 2006-2007 season.

Saturday's win secured Dortmund's eighth German league championship, while also extending the team's record for the longest unbeaten run in a single Bundesliga season to 26.

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